Pain recognition in reptiles and investigation of associated behavioural signs

Hayley Ayers
June 2016

Background:There is minimal research into reptile pain management and analgesic protocols, and current opinions surrounding this topic are outdated; the last significant study was carried out by Read in 2004. The aim of this current study was to consider the current ideas and highlight any advancements in reptile analgesia.Objective:To investigate current ideas within analgesia in reptiles, with focus on the creation of a behavioural ethogram for clinical reference.Methods:A survey was created using an online platform and distributed to experts in the field of reptile pain management (veterinarians and veterinary nurses) as well as experienced animal carers (herpetoculturists and pet owners).Results:A chi-square test revealed no statistical significance in behavioural signs recognised between veterinary professionals and animal carers. Continuity existed between the behavioural signs recognised by both expert groups.Conclusion:A lack of confidence was identified when assessing pain in reptiles. The top three behavioural signs of pain in the three subgroups were statistically agreed on across both groups of expert individuals, indicating a good basis for a behavioural ethogram.

Pain recognition in reptiles and investigation of associated behavioural signs
Pain recognition in reptiles and investigation of associated behavioural signs

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